The Deity of Christ
Course: A Guide to Christian Theology
Lecture: Deity of Christ
This is the 20th lecture in the online series of lectures on a Guide to Christian Theology by Dr Breshears. Recommended Reading includes: Biblical References from the Course and Study Guides 1 – 39.
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Part 1 – The Deity of Jesus
I. Old Testament Messianic Passages
In talking about Jesus, there are basic fundamental points that everybody agrees on. There is one eternal purpose, the Logos, the second person of the trinity and he is eternal with no beginning and no end. He is the holy God in every way. So the deity of Jesus is the same eternal deity of the father, but he has the same temporal humanity as we do. There is a personal unity within him.
So in this lecture, we will deal with the deity of Jesus. In doing so, we are talking about Jesus as Emmanuel, God who came among us. So how did we come to the conclusion that this human being, who was very much physically like us, was God? In Daniel 7, Daniel has his visions of the four beasts and then in verse 9, he has a vision of the ancient of days. Then in verse 13, he describes this ancient of days, ‘I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.’ This is a messianic passage and he is like the son of man. His origin is not from earth but from heaven or clouds from heaven. These clouds are not rain clouds but they represent God. Looking closer we see that he is of heavenly origin being God or possibly an angel. He is not human but it could be either one. We see that peoples, nations, and languages should worship him. The word ‘serve’ here is a worship word. So you don’t worship angels, therefore he is not an angel. So it is a prophecy of a divine Messiah from Daniel chapter 7. Let’s look at Psalm 110, a Psalm of David and one in which Jesus refers to. It was written by David as king. So a question posed, in his world, who is above David? Nobody, because he is king and he gives account to no one; he is the high king. The Lord, Yahweh, says to my Lord, sit at my right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. So here the question is posed, who is David’s my Lord, Adonai? He is not a human and he is not Yahweh because Yahweh speaks to him. Who is this? I think that this is the second person of the trinity. So I think this is a divine Messiah prediction.
II. The Book of Mark Messianic Passages
In the New Testament, a place that you find statements about the deity of Jesus that isn’t in the normal list is in the Book of Mark. Mark is one of the synoptic books that have a lot to say about the life of Jesus. Chapter 1 starts off with a reference to Isaiah 40:3, ‘behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord make his paths straight.’ So we see that it is clearly Jesus being the way. Isaiah 40:3 refers to the way being that of Yahweh. Back in Mark 1, this is applied to Jesus. So Mark is telling us that Jesus is Yahweh who came among us. This is a very strong statement of the deity of Jesus; but you have to see it in the Old Testament to understand it. Many see Mark as the oldest and most authentic of the Gospels. I think they are all old and most authentic, but Mark is the one that would provide the most credibility. Mark continues to explain who John is and all what Jesus does. For example, John will baptize with water but Jesus will baptize with the Holy Spirit. Another reference is from Joel 2:28 where it says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all people.’ Whoever calls on the name of Yahweh will be saved. So it is Yahweh who is pouring out the spirit. In Mark the one who baptizes with the Spirit is Jesus; thus Jesus is Yahweh. In Mark 1:11 we have a quote directly from Psalm 2:7 where it says, ‘The LORD said to me, you are my Son; today I have begotten you.’ So we see within the first eleven verses of Mark by citing the Old Testament that this Jesus is Yahweh who has come among us; a very strong statement of the deity of Christ.
We have John 1:1 which we are looked at already stating that the Word was in the beginning and it was with God and it was God. The Word creates and then in verse 18, ‘no one has ever see God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.’
III. My Lord and My God!
In John 8:54, ‘Jesus answered, if I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, He is our God.’ And then in verse 56, ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day, he saw it and was glad.’ Abraham saw the day of Jesus and was glad. Now Abraham was 2,000 years past that of Jesus, but in verse 28, it clearly says, ‘truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So Jesus is saying that he was around even before Abraham. Jesus uses the divine title, ‘I AM’ and applies it to himself. It was then that people picked up stones to throw at him because they understood what Jesus had said; he claimed to be God. Another reference in John, John 20:24 where Jesus appeared before the disciples but Thomas doubted that Jesus was alive until Jesus showed Thomas his hands, where upon Thomas said, ‘My Lord and my God!’ This is another clear affirmation of Jesus to deity. Jesus receives Thomas’s statement that he was God. In terms of apologetics, how many founders of religions have acknowledged that they were God? None whatsoever! In addition, how many of those who adhere to that religion have acknowledged that their founder was God? None! There was one who was called The Buddha who actually rejected it. People called Jesus God and he acknowledged this as truth, before his resurrection and after his resurrection.
IV. The Epistles Acknowledge Jesus to be God
The Epistles also acknowledge Jesus to be God. The Book of Romans was written by Paul which most everyone agrees with. It was written less than thirty years after the death of Jesus. So in Romans 9:5, it states that ‘to them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.’ So here, he is saying that Christ is God. Another verse in Colossians 2:8 warns about being captive by philosophical and empty deceit, according to human tradition and elemental spirits of the world are not according to Christ. Then in verse 9, it clearly states that in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.’ Now, this is not saying that people have an attribute of deity or Jesus has an attribute of deity; instead he has the fullness of deity in him. It is a statement of his actual deity. In Hebrews 1:5 says, ‘for to which of the angels did God ever say, you are my Son, today I have become your Father and in verse 8, it says, your throne, O God, will last forever and forever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.’ Here, you notice in speaking to the Son, ‘your throne, O God.’ This is another clear affirmation to the deity of the Son.
So we have seen references to the Deity of Jesus in both Mark and John, but actually they are in all of the Gospels. We have also seen it in the Epistles, especially in Hebrews and also all throughout them. These are strong affirmations that Jesus is God who has come among us. Another line of thinking and this is quiet powerful is that Jesus did things that only God could do. Let’s look at Isaiah 44:24 where it says that God spread out the earth by himself. Only God creates and thus in John 1:3 and other places that ‘Jesus was in the beginning with God and all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.’ Or to be more specifically the Word was in the beginning; but it is clear that Jesus is the Word of God. So Jesus creates and we see that only God creates.
V. Jesus is the Son of Man
In Matthew 4 we have the argument with Satan where he tempted Jesus to bow down and worship him. Jesus replies that he is to worship God only but then what happens in John 9 where the blind man who gets healed. He comes back, having been thrown out by the Pharisees, he finds Jesus. Jesus asked him, ‘do you believe in the Son of Man?’ This term comes from Daniel. The man wanted to know who the Son of Man was. Jesus told him that He (Jesus) was the Son of Man. This claim is being the divine Messiah. The Man said that he believed and worshipped Jesus. So Jesus who said before this that you should only worship God receives worship himself from the formerly blind man. There is another example in Mark 2 with the paralytic. Jesus told the paralytic that his sins were forgiven. The scribes said that only God can forgive sin. God alone has the authority to forgive our sin against another person. To confirm this authority, Jesus then heals the paralytic telling him to get up and walk.
In Romans 10:9 it says that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved and this is repeated in Romans 13 saying that for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. This is quoted from Joel 2:32, ‘and it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’ LORD here, is Yahweh. In Romans 10:13 it is Jesus and so Jesus is Yahweh. So we believe in the deity of Jesus because the Bible clearly teaches this and the Bible is the authority which we work from.
Why would someone say Biblically Jesus is not God: We see in John 14:26 where it talks about the Holy Spirit coming and teaching all the things I said to you, Jesus says. In verse 28, Jesus comments that the Father is greater than him. Thus if Jesus is Yahweh, he should be equal to God. The answer to this, this is Jesus in his incarnation. Jesus has submitted himself to the Father in becoming human because Jesus chose that position. As Jesus, the God-man, the Father is greater than him. In returning to heaven, he resumes the role of equality with God. There is a difference between Jesus being a good moral teacher and being God. God is with us is one of the powerful themes and teachings of the New Testament. Jesus is just not an angel. There is no indication or teaching of this in the New Testament. But because God cares so much for us, he loves the world and sent Jesus so that we might have salvation and eternity with him. God honored us by sending his Son; anything less would have been less. Only the holiness of God could purify us all. The holiness of God is something that comes and purifies us. (Isaiah 6) And if Jesus isn’t God he can’t purify us.
Part 2 - The Humanity of Jesus
What type of humanity does Jesus have? First of all, Jesus was born into this world, a normal human birth. He grew up and obeyed his parents. He was religious and worshiped and prayed. He had emotional life who desired friendship. We saw this in the garden saying to the disciples, ‘couldn’t you stay with me one hour?’ The most common emotional word Jesus had was his compassion. In Mark 3:1, when Jesus was in the synagogue and healed the person with the withered hand. Those around Jesus were watching to see if he would heal on the Sabbath. This angered Jesus and he grieved at their hardness of their hearts. He was grieved with anger toward them. This is a complex emotion. Jesus was grieved at their stubbornness.
So, another question concerns the omniscience of Jesus; that is: knowing everything. In Matthew 24:36 he says that only the Father knows when heaven and earth will pass away and the coming of the Son of Man. So Jesus is saying that he was omniscient. Jesus laid aside that attribute while he was on earth. Back in Mark 9:14 the disciples were arguing and Jesus ask what they were arguing about. I don’t think Jesus knew the answer. He didn’t know what they were arguing about. In the next chapter, he does ask a question that he knows the answer to, to make his point. I think that in his incarnate state, Jesus’ knowledge is a gift of the Holy Spirit and there are times when the Holy Spirit doesn’t given him that information so he has to ask just like you or I would. So I think in his humanity he doesn’t know everything and he has to ask to find out. When he was in a crowd and a sick woman touched him; he knew he was touched but not by whom. So I think that his humanity was like our humanity. In Hebrews 4:14, he was tempted in every way. Jesus laid aside certain qualities in order to experience a human and suffering. But did he have sinful desires. I actually believe that the strongest temptation doesn’t come to sinful desires. Jesus never gave in to temptation. In Hebrews 2:17 it says that he had to be made like them in every respect. He is like us in every way. He is a model for our lives. In John 13 he washed the feet of his disciples. Only the lowest of servants would wash other people’s feet. It is a demeaning task. Peter argued with the Lord telling him that he shouldn’t wash his feet. But Jesus told them that they were to wash one another’s feet. Here, Jesus is saying that his life is model for them to follow. We under estimate what we can do by the power of the Holy Spirit of God; we live too much of an ordinary life in this world today. I think we should step up to the life of Jesus much more so than we typical do. We are way too content to live half powerful lives. I need to be more like Jesus because he came to be like us. He came from heaven to the hell of this earth to takes our sin so that we could go to his glory. So, let us be like Jesus.